- Brian James
ESPN Insider Brian James will provide scouting reports throughout the NBA Finals.
Keys in Game 3
San Antonio: I've said many times that when two of the three stars on the Spurs play well, they usually win. When all three play well, they almost always win. But in Game 3, only Tony Parker played with the toughness and results that coach Gregg Popovich needed. Parker led his team with 21 points and took hard fouls in trying to get his patented layups off within six feet of the basket. Tim Duncan shot 5-for-15 for 14 points. Manu Ginobili, after getting his knee bumped in the opening minute, had only six shots resulting in seven points, and six turnovers. As a result, San Antonio lost Game 3. The double-teaming on Chauncey Billups to help out Parker in the post helped early. But as a team, San Antonio had positive results only in the first quarter, when eight different players scored. Robert Horry and Brent Barry continued to play well off the bench. But the Spurs were outscored by 23 points over the final three quarters. San Antonio ran out of gas when the doubling started, resulting in an 11-0 Pistons run, and the game was essentially over. One unusual stat was the Spurs were a plus-15 points on 3s, but a minus-22 on 2s.
Detroit: Did Ben Wallace set the tone for the Pistons or what? Not only did his steal and dunk for a three-point play put the already frenzied Palace crowd into overdrive, but his five blocks in the first quarter, which tied a franchise mark, showed that this was going to be a much different Pistons team than in Games 1 and 2 in San Antonio. The first two minutes of the contest were indicative of how this would play out Wallace's three-point play, Ginobili's getting hurt, Nazr Mohammed's two fouls, and Ben's block on Duncan's first shot. The Pistons backed up their promise and played with a purpose, giving a great defensive effort. They were much more active and had a high energy level throughout. The hard fouls they gave showed that there would be a price to pay when driving to the rim. Detroit's aggression resulted in 23 points off 18 forced turnovers and a 20-10 edge in second-chance points. The 10 blocks, 12 steals and 20-4 edge in fast-break points was also proof. The defense completely took over during the final 14 minutes of action. When Parker went out for a rest near the two-minute mark of the third period, Detroit started the run and jump, doubling the ball when it could. This continued effort resulted in a 55-37 edge in the second half, fueled by a 26-6 run.
The Spurs better be prepared for an inspired Pistons team wanting to get this series back to square one.